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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Progress has been made since WSIS-05 – Toure

The Secretary General, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Dr. Hamadoun Toure, has declared that much progress have been made since the second phase of the two-phased World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

ITrealms Online recalled that the summit was held in two phases namely in Geneva 2003 and Tunis 2005.

According to Toure, who spoke at the recent meeting on Global forum on Access and Connectivity as part of the Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development (GAID) and United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) jointly organized Steering Committee Meeting held in Kuala Lumpur recently, pointed out that though the population of the world’s mobile phone users have continued to rise, there is no corresponding enthusiasm in increasing the broadband internet on those handsets.

Toure noted that as the outcome of the WSIS a clear vision to harness the vast potential of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to achieve the development aspirations of all the world’s inhabitants was set.

He stressed that in recognition of the importance of ICT as valuable assets for economic growth, “world leaders expressed their strong political commitment towards building an inclusive, people-centered and development-oriented information society.”

The ITU scribe also said that the summit was an important landmark in the global effort to eradicate poverty and achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015.

“Since the Tunis Phase of WSIS, much progress has been made,” he declared, adding for instance that the Connect Africa Summit, the first of ITU’s Connect the World series, held in Kigali in 2007 has shown the extent of commitment to achieving the WSIS goals.

He described the Kigali meeting as a huge step towards achieving an all-inclusive information society, just as he stated that more are still yearning for action and inclusion.

“We need to keep in mind that there is much more to be done and there are only seven years remaining to 2015,” he asserted.

Stressing that in order to have an all-inclusive society all WSIS stakeholders must recognize the capability of ICTs to act as a key enabler for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

“We may need to be more ambitious in many domains, for instance aiming to connect the unconnected by 2012,” he said.

Emphasizing that by way of building on the existing multi-stakeholder spirit, all hands must continue to be on the deck.

“WSIS stakeholders need to continue working together, focusing on concrete actions and projects in the field of ICTs, supporting the development of the inclusive information society, spurring investment, employment and broader human, social and economic development,” Toure said.

Hence, ITU welcomes the progress report listing growing number of activities, carried out in year 2007, which act as an excellent result of collaborative efforts of all stakeholders involved in the work with UNDESA-GAID.

“We are confident that this would not be possible without deep involvement of the Mr. Craig Barret, Chairmen of Intel Corp. and UNDESA-GAID as well as dedication and continuous support to the activities of Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-secretary-General of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA),” he said.

As said by him, several activities carried out in 2007/2008 have shown that the UNDESA-GAID is becoming an efficient multi-stakeholder platform continuously attracting new partners in joining the forces in work on the ICT issues.

We note that many of them are coming from the civil society and we strongly believe that it will be possible to maintain this tendency in the future.

Affirming that WSIS organized by the ITU, for the first time in the history gave to the civil society the possibility to be involved in the process almost at the same level as the governments.
Therefore, he expressed confident that civil society would build upon this by leveraging on it.

“I am confident that the civil society has an important role in building all inclusive Information Society and more visible and tangible involvement of the civil society in the global initiatives, which mainstream the ICT issues into the global development agenda, might be with advantage for all parties involved. It is our role, as the members of the steering committee, to give the proper directions to this multi-stakeholder platform. In order to avoid any possible duplication of on-going efforts, we should be very clear in determining the goals and scope of activities,” he submitted.

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